Hello! (Again.)

He’s at it—again. Yet another attempt at starting and keeping up with a blog. Why? Because sometimes 140 characters are not enough, and I don’t agree with Facebook’s Terms of Service.

KeyboardAccording to my journal, my last blog post was in 2006. It was a short account of a weekend trip I made with friends to Washington, DC and the museums and restaurants we visited during our holiday. The blog was part of a personal Web site where I posted essays, anecdotes, photos, and bytes about my life in New York City. It was a way for me to share things I saw and did with friends, family, or anyone who happened to come across the site by link, search, or stumble.

Shortly after that post, I began working in an advertising agency in Manhattan. I worked as an art director designing brochures and printed educational materials for pharmaceutical companies. Because of the hours I kept, the blog took a back seat to my demanding schedule. After a few weeks of working late into the evening, and realizing that time was not mine to manage, I realized I had to shift my priorities to client requests and meeting schedules that left me little time to write lengthy posts about books and articles I read, restaurants I enjoyed, and places I frequented in and around New York City. Where I used to post almost daily to my blog, days would slip by without a published word. Eventually, readers stopped visiting, and I decided it was best to shut down the site so I could focus on paying rent.

A few years later, I made a modest attempt at bringing back the site, but the effort yielded nothing more than a few short posts that went neglected by friends and former readers. That was around the time Twitter and Facebook launched, and anyone with a smartphone and Internet connection began posting short tweets and status updates for their friends to follow. Tweets became an appealing way of sharing personal bytes because they are short by design and don’t demand much space or time to consider. In a tweet there is little room for contemplation or for context; after posting, the results are immediate. Facebook brought the rest of the world online and made it easy for casual Internet users to follow their friends and share their photos and videos with everyone. The realm that once belonged to geeks and Internet savvy surfers became accessible to anyone wired to the Web.

After playing with the two social networking adversaries, I realized that short and tweet had taken over the online world and that blogs would go the way of e-mail. Twitter was fast, easy, convenient to my busy schedule, and few of my friends had the patience to read lengthy accounts of whatever I was up to. A photo of a sandwich I was about to bite into was more than enough. The world was spinning faster and multitasking became part of everyone’s job description. Why sit and write a blog when tweeting or updating a status was more immediate and less demanding than composing a lengthy post? Why spend time composing sentences and paragraphs when a few truncated words with a link to a Web site or photo would suffice?

Twitter worked well enough for me for several years, and I was happy to leave behind me a trail of short posts for friends to read. By the time my tweets added to a 100, I was done with blogging. From then on, Twitter was more than adequate for my sharing needs, and while I never warmed to Facebook, I kept my profile active to keep up with my friends who were jumping on the Farmville bandwagon.

A few months ago, however, while trying to compose a tweet about a book I had just finished reading, I ran into a problem. I couldn’t. I had been at it for a few drafts when I realized, “140 characters is not enough!”

After turning the last page of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I wanted to let my friends know that Guernsey was a novel I thought they would enjoy reading. The novel is an ode to the joys of reading and the friendships that develop when, under extraordinary circumstances, books and the stories contained within their covers, bring folk together in friendship. As a reader, I’m fond of sharing books with friends. Some of my closest friendships have often begun when someone gifts or refers me to a book they know I’ll enjoy reading.

As I composed the tweet, I wanted to add a cover image and bookstore link to my summary. When I sat to write the tweet, my thoughts added to more than 256 characters—and I still had plenty to say! No matter how cleverly I phrased the tweet, or how much I truncated the words, I was still over the limit imposed on a tweet (way!). Try as I might, I could not distill my message down to the required length. In the end, I shared the book, photo, and thoughts with my friends by telling them about it over the phone or by e-mail—still my favorite mode of communication. Sometimes, even in a Twitter and post-Blogger world, old technologies work best.

The exercise, however, left me thinking: What if I want to share something again and I need more than 140 characters? What if I want to share a book, article, or idea with others? Perhaps I’ll want to let colleagues know of an article I read on Zite that will shows how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help them live a healthier, more balanced life. Maybe, I’ll want to share a story I read in The New Yorker that rekindles my love for short fiction. It’s likely that I’ll also want to respond, at length, to someone’s tweet, or blog post, and offer my views on what they have written.

Twitter has been an easy and convenient way for me to share my ideas and thoughts with friends and followers. At just over 3,500 tweets, Twitter is one of those few fads I’ve kept up with for more than three weeks. I like Twitter; it’s fun, easy to use, and convenient. Sometimes, however, Twitter is too brief and not generous enough for me to share what I want with my friends. There are instances when 140 characters are only the introduction to the 750 words necessary to explain what I have in my mind. Twitter offers convenience while sacrificing context. In a tweet, there is no room to offer why a link, photo, or phrase is important to me. When we tweet, we’re assuming that readers will know why something is funny to us and why. This is not always the case, and follow up tweets or private communications are required to clarify a post.

Thus, my decision to start writing—again.

This site is a collection of fictions, short essays, photos, quotes, musings, and inquietudes I have about things that matter to me. Don’t believe a word I say, but read between the lines and find some truth, some gem that will spark a deeper idea that reflects your own truth. Sometimes, I sit at my desk to write about matters that I try to work out in my mind or that I want to share with friends. While I prefer Twitter’s convenience and immediacy, a blog is a space to contemplate and reflect further on what a few words or a link mean to me. As a meditator, I’m always reflecting on what my thoughts mean and how I can use the lessons I learn so I can apply them to life challenges and situations. Writing remains one of the best tools available for learning and self-reflection. To write means to learn, and in order to learn one needs to write.

I’m constantly looking for inspiration; for that, nothing works better than writing every day. Good writers don’t wait for their Muse to appear — they chase after him! As Eric Weiner points out, “Intersections make the best muse” [31], be them a street corner in a strange city, a soft breeze high in the mountains, a link stumbled upon on a Web site, or a dogeared page in a book we forgot we tucked away on a shelf. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and most forms of new social media are where people are intersecting and meeting today. This blog is my way of adding to the conversation and intersecting with new and old friends.

We are living in a time where miracles occur daily. From being able to carry entire libraries in our pockets or looking up the lyrics to a song in seconds, to connecting and friending people living half a world away, tweets, blogs, e-mails, and the Internet manifest what dharmic teachings have been saying for hundreds of years: we are all interdependent. Just like a butterfly flapping its wings in South America can affect weather patterns in Central Park, so can the words in a blog influence and inspire someone living a thousand miles away to feel less lonely.

This space is an attempt to provide a context for the things I enjoy, and to wrestle and put into words those restless ideas, fictions, and thoughts sparked by books, readings, and events I see around me. The restlessness, or inquietudes, that keep me awake writing or tinkering on my computer long into the night, need a home where I can visit and grow intimate with them. It’s only when we meet and become friends with anything that stumps or baffles us that the ordinary can be transformed into magic.


About the author Walter

Walter lives and works in and around South Florida. When not practicing or studying acupuncture, you can find him at one of Miami’s beaches, or in a coffee shop lost in the pages of a good book. Walter enjoys diverse interests such as reading Tarot, practicing Qi Gong and Tai Chi, learning Buddhist dharma, practicing shamanic healing, writing for his blogs, reading Oriental philosophy, traveling to new places and old favorites, exploring contemplative photography with his iPhone, sitting quietly in meditation, practicing healthy fitness, and promoting wellbeing.

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